Officials attribute continued surge in throughput to strong economy and consumer demand and express guarded optimism about volumes till the end of the peak season but warned that up to $2bn in imports could be hit by tariff hikes.
Import volumes rose 5% year-on-year in September, and surged 9.2% compared to the previous corresponding period.
THE Port of Oakland reported record throughput figures for the peak season to-date, announcing that August and September saw a total of 168,289 inbound teu, nearly 10,000 teu higher than the previous August-September record of 158,320 teu set in 2006.
“We’re encouraged by this outcome,” said the port’s maritime director John Driscoll, who expressed guarded optimism that the trend would continue till the end of peak season in October.
Port officials said that import volume increased 5% last month from the previous corresponding period in September 2017, while August imports were up 9.2% year-on-year.
“Economic indicators lead us to believe that import volumes should remain healthy,” Mr Driscoll said, underlining the view of port officials that continued strength in the US economy, spurred by consumer spending, is driving the import surge.
Port officials said it is too early to project the impact of 2018 tariff increases on shipments from China, but said that up to $2bn in imported goods could be affected.
Over the first nine months of 2018, Oakland has averaged 79,193 teu of imports, with June the highest month at 87,207 teu and March the lowest at 66,302 teu. The difference between the two months is 20,905 teu or just over 26%.
For the year to-date, the port saw 712,735 teu of loaded inbound and 669,277 teu of outbound containers making up a total of 1.38m teu. In terms of empties, Oakland handled 158,813 teu of inbound containers and 339,499 teu of outbound for a total of 498,312 teu.
Officials said that the port’s total container volume, including imports, exports and empty containers, is up 3.4% so far this year.
The port averaged nearly 208,924 teu per month for a total of 1.88m teu over the first nine months of the year, putting it on track for a record-setting annual throughput of some 2.51m teu for 2018.
Since 2001, Oakland has averaged an annual throughput of about 2.08m teu, with the nadir at 1.64m teu in 2001 and the peak in 2017 at 2.42m teu.